Prime Minister Kvirikashvili Thanks Law Enforcement for Heroic Actions in Batumi, Condemns “Destructive Political Forces” For Inciting Vandalism and Violence Print Version

Tbilisi, 12 March 2017 - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili traveled to Batumi today to see first-hand the Government's effective response in restoring order after last night's acts of vandalism and violence. The Prime Minister monitored events closely overnight, and flew to Batumi this morning. While in Batumi, the Prime Minister met with officials from law enforcement institutions and the Interior Ministry, expressed his gratitude today to law enforcement for responding calmly to the direct threat of violence against them, and visited those who were injured and hospitalized.

Speaking to a group of policeman and law enforcement officials earlier today, Kvirikashvili remarked, "I thank you for your heroism and composure. Law enforcement officers used the minimal amount of force as necessary to maintain stability and protect the rights of our citizens. I want you to know that I am standing by all of you." He also wished those officers who were injured a speedy recovery.

A violent incident occurred in the city of Batumi in Georgia's western Adjara region after police fined a driver for illegal parking. Reportedly, the driver and several others who accompanied him, verbally assaulted police officers and were detained for "disobeying a lawful order of police office".

Following this altercation, a group of people gathered in front of the Batumi Patrol Police Department, where they demanded the release of the arrested individuals and the resignation of the local police chief. The protesters threw stones at the police station and turned police cars upside down and set them on fire using "Molotov cocktails".

Speaking from Tbilisi in the early morning hours, the Prime Minister commented, "This incident shows that a harmless, everyday occurrence has been used by destructive political forces to escalate the situation. Unfortunately, these forces are willing to undermine the very foundation of stability in the country. They intentionally provoke acts of vandalism and abuse representatives of state authorities who have been instructed by us to maintain minimum-level response in order to avert possible complications."

The Prime Minister noted that Georgian society at large clearly denounces these types of destructive acts and reinforced the Government's commitment to maintaining order and ensuring citizens' right to live in a peaceful, stable environment.